Demonstrators gathered in front of the building where police officer Derek Chauvin is being tried
A Minnesota court on Tuesday began jury selection as part of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin over the death of African American George Floyd.
Judge Peter Cahill of the Hennepin County District Court has started the trial against the objections of state prosecutors, who say that a trial in such a high-profile case should not begin until a higher court decides how many criminal charges should be brought against Chauvin. He is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. Prosecutors also asked to add a third article – murder in the third degree.
On Monday, prosecutors asked the Minnesota Court of Appeals to order a stay of the trial. It is not yet clear if a higher court will intervene, but Cahill felt he was empowered to start the process unless an order was issued prohibiting him from doing so.
The trial is considered a landmark case of police violence against black people in the United States, where police officers are almost never prosecuted for the murder of civilians, including in cases where the alleged crime is minor or the suspect was unarmed.
Last October, Chauvin was released from prison on $ 1 million bail. He and three other officers were fired from the police the day after Floyd died in detention.
The death of the 46-year-old African American has sparked violent reactions and mass protests in the United States and around the world. Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the courthouse on Monday.
The judge set aside three weeks only for the selection of the jury, given the difficulties associated with the widespread resonance around this case.
Last year, the court sent potential jurors an unusually detailed 16-page questionnaire asking what they know about Floyd’s death and how they feel about the Black Lives Matter movement.
If convicted on a more serious charge, 44-year-old Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison.